Career Options for English Majors | English | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Career Options for English Majors


Develop career, community, and life skills!

Regardless of your specialization within the major, our English degree program will equip you with a plethora of marketable skills highly prized by employers. Reasoning and rhetoric, media literacy, critical analytical thinking and creative problem solving, ethical intercultural communication are essential to career effectiveness and to life outside work, including relationship building, community leadership, and democratic participation. Founders and CEO's of several Fortune 500 companies hold degrees in the humanities, and tech experts project that 97% of the tech boom will benefit students of English and other humanities programs. According to a 2012 IBM poll of 1,500 CEO's, the most important leadership skills in the always-changing world of business are creativity, adaptability, and a sense of social responsibility - in short, the stuff of an English degree. Some of the major marketable skills you’ll develop through our program include the following:

  • Writing
  • Research
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Language and Literacy
  • Empathy and Cultural Competency
  • Organization and Time Management
  • Proofreading and Editing
  • Problem Solving
  • Independence
  • Persuasion
  • Teamwork

There’s no limit to what you can do with an English degree!

English majors are the chameleons of the career landscape, fitting easily and effectively into countless roles over the course of a career and shifting careers as they outgrow one sector and become competitive in another. The skills and experiences offered by our English degree program will prepare you for all of the following careers (though some might surprise you) and more:

The Usual Suspects

Surprisingly Good Fits

The Usual Suspects

Creative Writing

Although relatively few writers make careers of their creative work, our world-class faculty in poetry and fiction will mentor you in the achievement of your own unique career goals. For starters, we recommend pursuing the Creative Writing Track or the Pre-Professional Track within our program, taking advantage of internship opportunities with our undergraduate literary magazine, Grassroots, and pursuing publication of your own work.

Information Technology

Digital publishing, search engine optimization, and online advertising are all lucrative career options for the tech-savvy English major, and our Creative Writing and Pre-Professional Writing faculty offer courses in technical composition, online publication, and virtual reality. In addition to studying Creative or Pre-Professional Writing, we recommend interning with Grassroots or SIU Press and taking up a minor in Computer Science.


Every company needs good copywriters, and the editing and proofreading skills you earn by studying English will help you not only to get the job by preparing effective materials but also to keep the job by providing necessary skills to your office. Alongside your study in Creative or Pre-Professional Writing, consider interning with Grassroots or SIU Press and working part-time as a tutor in our Writing Center.

Editorial Management/Publishing

If you love books, you might want to be a part of the process of creating and publishing them! Or, maybe you’re most interested in magazines and other periodicals. English majors who imagine futures in publishing or editorial management might pursue our Creative Writing or Pre-Professional Writing Track, publication in our undergraduate literary journal, and an internship with Grassroots or SIU Press.

Education/Higher Education

Although there are no limits to what you can do with an English degree, many of our students have a passion for education and dream of becoming teachers or professors. Depending on your particular goals, you might choose our Literature/General Studies Track or enroll in the Teacher Education Program. We recommend supplementing either course of study with minor and/or interdisciplinary areas of study and talking with your professors about graduate school.


English majors who enjoy and excel at writing may have careers in the ever-evolving field of journalism; indeed, some of our own alumni have gone on to rewarding careers in journalism. If this sounds like you, we recommend minoring or double-majoring in Journalism, working with the Daily Egyptian, Grassroots, or SIU Press, and pursuing student publication.


The practice English majors get at analyzing literary texts vis a vis their historical, philosophical, and various contexts suits them especially well for later studies and careers in law, including the roles of legal aides as well as attorneys. Our Literature/General Studies Track will suit these students especially well, while minors in Anthropology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, History, and Political Science will help round out their educational backgrounds.

Library Operations

A great option for book lovers is a career in library operations, and an English major is a great precursor to a Master’s in Library Science. We recommend the Literature/General Studies track, supplemented by a for-credit editorial acquisitions internship with SIU Press. Additionally, aspiring librarians can find student work with our Writing Center (conveniently located in Morris Library) or with the library itself.

Public Relations/Marketing

Communication, creativity, and critical thinking are at the center of an English degree program, and they also form the most important skills of a specialist in public relations or marketing. Our concentrations in Literature/General Studies and Pre-Professional Writing will most benefit future PR moguls, while a minor in either Public Relations or Marketing will complement the English major nicely. Additionally, consider any internship with SIU Press.

Technical Writing

From operations manuals to policy memos, every company needs good technical writers, and our English majors will be especially well equipped to meet those needs. Our Literature/General Studies and Pre-Professional Writing Tracks will best fit these students, while publishing internships offer in-demand experience. Students who have a sense of what kind of technical writing they’d like to do might choose a minor area of study accordingly.

Surprisingly Good Fits


The most successful businesspeople are creative, critically-minded, and culturally competent, so it comes as no surprise that English majors are especially well suited for careers in business and industry. Each of our specializations offers development of these skills, while internships with Grassroots and SIU Press provide hands-on business experience. Additionally, minor and interdisciplinary programs of study will aid business-minded English majors.


The independence, creativity, and cultural competency developed through the study of English help prepare our students for the ever-evolving world of finance, and that’s what recruiters for finance positions consistently seek in competitive candidates. We recommend pursuing a Literature/General Studies or Pre-Professional Writing Track as well as a minor in Business or Finance. Additionally, a tutoring job in our Writing Center provides income and experience.

Graduate School

Our English majors go on from SIU to become lifelong learners, and they take the research skills gained here with them! If you imagine your education extending beyond your four years with us, we recommend pursuing the Literature/General Studies Track and choosing minor and/or interdisciplinary areas of study. Work with the Writing Center and our various internships will help make you especially competitive in your graduate school applications.

Grant Writing

One of the most highly prized skills in today’s career landscape is grant writing; whether you hope to work with educators, nonprofits, municipal government, or research laboratories, our English degree program will prepare you to find creative new sources of income for your company. We recommend you pursue the Pre-Professional Writing Track as well as a minor area of study based on your areas of interest.

Government/Public Sector

Many English majors become community leaders in and out of the world of politics, from serving as Congressional aides to representing their constituents in federal office. Students who aspire to this kind of work will be especially drawn to our Literature/General Studies Track and perhaps also to the Political Science Minor. We recommend pursuing publishing internships as well, such as those offered through Grassroots and SIU Press.

Human Resources

English majors develop strong empathy and communication skills, and these are well suited to the human resources department of any major company, firm, or institution. Each of our specializations works uniquely to hone these skills, while work in our Writing Center or with SIU Press provides our students with the opportunity to work in complex settings with diverse bodies of colleagues and clients.


Many students are drawn to the humanities by their love of humanity, and those interested in nonprofit work will appreciate the opportunity to develop skills in writing, communication, organization and cultural competency through any of the specializations we offer through our English degree program. We recommend pursuing interdisciplinary areas of study alongside your English major relevant to your area of interest.

Real Estate

Creativity, communication, and organization skills make English majors especially good real estate agents, and many students of Literature, Creative Writing, and Pre-Professional Writing go on to find success in this field. We recommend pairing your English major with a minor in Theater or Communication Studies and seeking an internship with SIU Press or presenting at any of a number of annual academic conferences, including our in-house AEGIS conference.

Sales Management

English majors are especially well prepared to adapt to a changing business landscape, and their skills in communication, critical thinking, creative problem solving, and cultural competency will make them especially strong candidates for sales management positions. We recommend the Literature/General Studies Track, internships with SIU Press, minor areas of study, and presentations at our annual AEGIS Conference in English and the Humanities.

Science Writing

Scientists, researchers, and medical professionals communicate their innovative work to the public largely through the help of skilled science writers, who very often earn degrees in English. Our Creative Writing and Pre-Professional Writing Tracks will be especially useful to aspiring science writers, who will likely minor in the Sciences. Additionally, aspiring science writers might seek publication in Grassroots, our undergraduate literary journal.